Keep cutting-edge new hires on the edge, out of the mainstream

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Madhvi Pahwa, global talent director, Maxus
Madhvi Pahwa, global talent director, Maxus

Media agencies and other marketing services companies are increasingly looking for people with a fresh perspective who are able to challenge the status quo and be the “change agents” who can make a difference to their operations and help create an ongoing pool of fresh thinking and ideas.

However, after companies hire these coveted “square pegs”, they often try squeezing them into round holes. They smooth the edges, round the corners and mold the new prodigies just enough to fit in with the established order of things. New hires are either cloned and act like everyone else, or they get frustrated and leave.

So how can organizations bring in cutting-edge people without bending or breaking them? Here are a few tips:

• Check for a mutual fit early in the recruitment process. At Maxus, we make an offer only when we have some confidence that the person will fit into our culture. The need for a natural fit is even more essential when we bring in people to challenge status quo.

• Hire from different industries. People with different backgrounds come with a license to ask challenging questions that also serve to evoke fresh thinking from others in the organization.

• On-board the company to the person — not just the person to the company. Too often, the pressure is on the new employee to fit in. It's also essential to prepare teams and peers in advance of the new person's arrival.

If companies want to create a pipeline of fresh, innovative thinking, they must be bold in their recruitment practices and embrace change in how they attract and inspire their best people.

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